The 2018 Irish Champions Weekend kicks off this Saturday at Leopardstown, the Curragh hosting a further horse racing feast on Sunday. It is the premier Irish Flat racing meeting, with scores of high-level action and a selection of big betting heats to dig into.
Irish Champions Weekend betting offers a vast array of choice, but these four horses might just be the best bets for Irish Champions Weekend:
Backing a horse sired by Galileo, or sired by a sire, whose sire is Galileo, is always a safe bet in Leopardstown’s Champions Juvenile Stakes. Worth €150,000, this Irish Champions Weekend event has been won by Galileo colts three times in the past five years, and was last year won by Nelson, sired by Galileo champion Frankel.
That in mind, three Australia’s fit the bill, all trained by Aidan O’Brien, son Donnacha opting for Galway winner Broome. The form of O’Brien’s horses is hard to read due to the virus that has plagued his season, so Broome might turn out to be good value at 100/30 with Paddy Power, but Curragh winner Sydney Opera House is the most consistent of his runners.
On form the winner is Madhmoon, having comfortably held Sydney Opera House on his debut at Leopardstown over 1m - his rival running for the second time there. Madhmoon is a worthy 13/8 favourite on that form; he has Syndey Opera House’s measure, but does he have Broome’s?
The Sovereign Path Handicap is Irish Champions Weekend’s second handicap, and among the trickiest betting heats of the day at Leopardstown this Saturday, but there is some stand-out form than falls in favour of trainer Richard Fahey’s runner.
At Royal Ascot the Sovereign Handicap top weight Burnt Sugar won the 7f International Stakes, a handicap of similar value to this next test. In 9th, but only two lengths behind was Zap, that day rated 3lbs lower than the winner. On Saturday there is now a full 10lbs between them.
The manner in which Zap runs, held up and delivered late, means he will always need luck in running, but the three-year-old has an okay draw in stall nine of 18 and there is space in the Leopardstown straight to get up. He does need to be forgiven an appalling run at York last time out, though he ran the same at Leicester six days before winning at Newmarket.
The one thing all recent Irish St Leger winners have in common is that they had previously won over the 1m6f distance of the Curragh Classic. The exception had won over 1m5.5f, so it’s no surprise to see the course-and-distance winner Flag Of Honour favourite in the Irish St Leger betting.
Twilight Payment and Weekender have also won over the distance, but none as impressively as the favourite, who has landed a Group 2 and Group 3 over the Irish St Leger trip. He also receives a very useful three-year-old’s allowance, making it is hard to see past him at 2/1 with Paddy Power.
He’s not flawless though, so it’s worth taking a chance on stablemate Idaho, who has the 4/6 favourite for last year’s Doncaster St Leger, before stumbling and unseating jockey Seamie Heffernan 3f from the line. He looks a forgotten horse, and boasts far stronger Group 1, Classic, and International form than any other horse in the field.
Without fail, trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Moyglare Stud Stakes fate is linked to the form of the final Irish trial, the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the same course in August.
Virtually every filly he has run in the Group 1 ran in the Debutante, and in the past 15 years only once did his best-placed finisher not run in that race: 2014 third Found lining up after only a maiden outing - but look what she turned into.
It looks therefore, like O’Brien will not saddle this year’s winner as his best Debutante runner was third Zagitova, who looked well-held by the re-opposing Skitter Scatter - the ground likely to be similar for Sunday’s test.
The recent form of the Debutante winner in the Moyglare Stud Stakes reads 171813212232, that filly having not finished out of the frame since 2006, so the best bet in this year’s renewal has to be Skitter Scatter at 9/2 with Ladbrokes. Yes, there will be ground worries if it turns yielding, but connections are preparing for that.
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